Now that we approach the last year of the Obama era, it's reasonable to assess the
results of this presidency. Sure, Barack Obama still has slightly over a
year to serve, but his record is now well-established, and an evaluation his presidency over the past seven years might be
In fairness, domestic and international
events overtake every president. It's the president who gets the credit
when events go well, even if he had relatively little to do with the end
result. In addition, it's the president who takes the blame when things
go south, even if events are largely beyond his control. Given this
reality, it's far more important to look at how executive decisions
shaped events and/or how action or inaction responded to those events. When the
president's fingerprints are on an event (via decisions, policies,
appointments, or even rhetoric) it's completely appropriate to assess
the end result. And it's the result, not the rhetoric or the intention
this 3,400 word post (apologies for its length), I'll assess the Obama
administration's record on domestic and foreign policy—the legislation
that was sponsored by this president, his decisions, policies, and
appointments, and the rhetoric he often used to push his programs. I'll then provide an overall summary and
An Assessment of Domestic Policy
the past seven years we've watched as Barack Obama battled with the
Congress but it's important to remember that during his
first two years as president, Barack Obama had overwhelming Democratic
majorities in both the House and the Senate.
he had the congressional majority, he did not
reform immigration nor did he implement "common
sense" measures for gun control. With large Democrat majorities in both
houses of Congress, he did not
reform our tax system, did not
address "income inequality," did not
for social security and medicare, did not
pass climate change legislation, nor did he reform Wall Street. He
repeatedly blamed GOP "obstructionists," but even though he had significant majorities in both houses of Congress, he
accomplished relatively little in the legislative arena—with one
His signature "achievement, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), was
passed without a single GOP vote (absolutely unprecedented for major
legislation that affected tens of millions of citizens). Obamacare required
unseemly political deals (recall the "Cornhusker kickback") to get even
enough Democrat votes for passage. Once enacted, this president unilaterally decided
to postpone certain unpleasant aspects of the law he championed, afraid
that implementing those aspects would create public
backlash and political ruin. Legislation that he promised would save money and reduce
medical costs, did neither. Promises he made (the infamous, "you can
keep your doctor ...") turned out to be lies.
voters responded to Obama's serial failures and gave congress strong GOP
majorities in 2010. He did win re-election in 2012, but again in 2014, his party was beaten badly in congressional voting. In effect, Obama lived under the fantasy that the American public had not
rejected his governance and his party in 2014 and continued using the word
"obstructionist" as an excuse for its inability to craft legislation
and programs that would be acceptable to a bi-partisan majority. The role of the president is to negotiate and compromise.
That is clearly not part of Barack Obama's make-up.
examine domestic policy over the past seven years. We'll explore
legislation that was sponsored by this president, his decisions and policies, and the rhetoric he often used to push his
programs. Obama's domestic policy can is exemplified by:
- A level of dishonesty
that is breathtaking when one considers that Obama himself knowingly
lied about major heath care legislation, purposely stonewalled the many scandals that plagued his presidency, and cynically demonized
those who tried to point out his failures.
- A biased main stream media that has been co-opted to the extent that it can no longer be trusted by the American public to report accurately on domestic policy failures.
- Less transparency (according to the Obama-friendly New York Times) than any other administration in history.
- Hyperpartisan, divisive politics in which opponents were treated as enemies, denigrated publicly, and derided as "obstructionists." Barack Obama is the only president in my lifetime to repeatedly ridicule his opponents and do so with such relish.
- A reflexive tendency to take individual racial incidents
(e.g., Henry Louis Gates, Travon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmed Mohamed)
and use them to imply subtly that America is a racist society,
explicitly disregarding evidence in each case that mitigates against
- The consequent emergence of the 'black lives matter' coalition and their thuggish attack on "free speech."
- Selective enforcement of the law by a justice department
that was politicized to a far greater extent than is normal, resulting
in indictments of opponents (e.g., Democrat Senator Robert Menendez or General
David Petraeus or conservative author Denesh DeSousa) but allowing Obama's friends to
skate (e.g., no meaningful investigation or indictment of anyone on
Wall Street as a consequence of the crash of 2008; a DoJ decision not to
prosecute the IRS's Lois Lerner).
- Serious scandals (Fast and Furious, IRS, VA, Benghazi, AP, Intelligence doctoring, and others)
that were stonewalled successfully by this White House with the
complicity of the Justice Department and the media—scandals that eroded
trust in government and stunk of criminal wrong-doing.
- Weaponizing a government agency—the
IRS—to attack opponents of Barack Obama and then refusing to adequately
investigate, bring charges against wrong-doers, or provide relevant
information to the Congress.
- Failure to address serious and continuing patient care shortcomings, fraud and abuse at Veterans' Administration hospitals.
- A failure to take responsibility when any negative news about the administration breaks, e.g., Obama claimed he learned of the Obamacare website debacle only after launch and the VA scandal in "the newspapers"; he claimed there wasn't a "shred of evidence" and therefore no blame) when the IRS was caught targeting his opposition, even after Lois Lerner took the fifth. Today, he claims that he just recently learned that Middle Eastern intelligence reports were doctored (to minimize the threat of radical Islamist groups), even though complaints about this originally surfaced in 2012.
- Unprecedented growth in the regulatory power of the federal government to levels that allow federal agencies to intrude into our lives in ways unheard of a generation ago.
- A hyperpartisan health care program (Obamacare) rammed through congress on a strictly partisan vote.
- A health care program (Obamacare) that has resulted in high
premiums, stratospheric deductibles, disappointing enrollment, less access and choice for many, and purported "coverage" for millions that could have been accomplished
at significantly lower cost and with significantly greater public
- An $800 billion "stimulus" that never accomplished promised upgrades
to national infrastructure but did reward political friends with vast
sums of money and then resulted in nothing to show for those
- A conscious effort to undermine and obstruct our efforts to develop the conventional energy resources necessary to attain energy independence (e.g., a veto of the Keystone pipeline).
- The elevation of climate change to religious belief, rather than considering it as one of many issues that must be considered when national and international policies are developed.
- Profligate spending that has doubled the national debt to nearly $19 trillion, requiring interest payments (i.e., debt service) of more than $400 billion dollars per year.
- Forcing edge-of-the-cliff battles with Congress over the debt
ceiling or continuing budget resolutions with no effort whatsoever to
negotiate in good faith or compromise to get a reasonable deal done.
- High taxes that have suppressed economic activity, and as a consequence, an economy that sputtered for most of Obama's presidency (even 2016 Democrat candidates for president complain about a poor economy).
- A workforce that has excluded 94,000,000 adults from employment—the lowest labor participation rate in the past 38 years.
Worse, the biggest decline is among young people—ironically, the cohort
that voted so enthusiastically for Barack Obama in 2008.
- An anemic job creation rate (156,000 for the entire country in September, 2015) that indicates an equally anemic GDP.
- Erosion of middle class incomes—real
median household income dropped 1.5% last year, the sixth year out of
the last 7 in which median income fell (Barack Obama's economic policies
have been in place for seven years)
- Interest rates at or near zero percent
for his entire presidency—hurting small savers and senior citizens who
count on fixed interest investments to grow their nest eggs.
- Significant increases in people who are dependent of government programs like food stamps and Medicaid and the subtle encouragement of this dependency culture.
- Racial tension that has not lessened, and in some ways, has been exacerbated by a president that seems to favor activists (think: Al Sharpton) over a beleaguered law enforcement community.
- A porous border and a lack of will in the enforcement of existing immigration laws.
- An inability to combat state-sponsored cyberattacks against poorly protected government data bases resulting in privacy problems for tens of millions of government personnel with no meaningful retaliatory response.
- Class warfare as a political tactic designed to excuse the failure of the blue economic model.
- No meaningful attempt to address the serious financial problems plaguing Social Security and Medicare, even though both programs are heading toward insolvency.
- Crony capitalism that rewards administration supporters on Wall Street and in the technologies (think: Solyndra) but penalizes small businesses with a regulatory regime that dampens growth.
- Increasing levels of big government incompetence (think: the Obamacare website or a TSA airport security failure rate of over 90 percent) that has made government actions the butt of jokes.
Under Barack Obama, big intrusive government (BIG) has
flourished. Some believe that is an achievement, and undoubtedly, the
political class has been enriched by BIG's growth. Yet, the European model that BIG advocates want to emulate has demonstrated that BIG is unsustainable over the long term. It has resulting is
tepid economic growth, intrusive actions by government agencies, and
damage to the middle and lower classes that may very well be
candidates for president
in 2016 uniformly argue that the middle class is suffering, that income
inequality is soaring, that not enough jobs have been created, that
crony capitalists are benefiting. It's interesting that they seem
incapable of laying any of this at the feet of a Democrat president who
has run this government for seven full years.
An Assessment of Foreign Policy
Some presidents have
struggled with domestic policy but have had significant achievements in
the foreign policy realm. Barack Obama is not
one of those presidents. Barack Obama's foreign policy is exemplified by:
- A vague, inconsistent strategy that has been demonstrably ineffective and incoherent. The strategy, when one can be discerned, is often driven by what the Obama administration doesn't want to do (e.g., use ground troops in the Middle East) rather than what it wants to accomplish in a particular region of the world.
- A president who is "unable to grasp" the inherent danger of Islamist groups around the world, insulting those who demand a more cogent assessment and withdrawing into a cocoon of 'belief' (ISIS is "contained") that has no basis in fact or reality.
- The abandonment of long-time allies and the embrace of virulent enemies. Relations with long time Middle East allies (e.g., Israel and moderate Arab countries) have never been more strained while efforts to appease our adversaries (e.g., Iran) have jettisoned common sense and often conflict with the best interests of the United States.
- Self-imposed red-lines that were crossed by adversaries with no response, resulting in Islamist barbarians who have been allowed to conduct their barbarity without significant intervention.
- The failure of the Russian "reset" and the Asian "pivot" with escalating aggressiveness on the part of both Russia and China.
- Increased tension with both China and Russia as each country
acts in ways that challenges us and destabilizes regions of the world
(e.g., the Ukraine, the South China sea).
- The Russian annexation of the Crimea with no meaningful response form this president.
- Sponsorship of an attack on and destabilization of Libya that ultimately led to Libya as a failed state and home for Islamic terrorists of all types.
- The Russian-Iranian armed takeover of Syria with the explicit intent
of controlling the country and projecting increasing influence in the
Middle East. The entry of Cuban military into the mix.
- Chaos in the Ukraine with no meaningful response from this president.
- A gun-running scandal, called "Fast and Furious," in which the
Obama's Department of Justice facilitated the transport of automatic
weapons to Mexican drug cartel members in a harebrained scheme to trace
their usage. The weapons were used to murder many, including a U.S.
border patrol agent. The Obama administration stonewalled the
- A naive embrace of the "Arab Spring," followed by the advocacy of an overthrow of Egypt's Hosni Mubarek, to be replaced by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a virulent Islamist group that Barack Obama characterized as "moderate."
- Establishment of an Iranian nuclear "deal" that does not provide for
meaningful verification but does provide the world's greatest sponsor
of terror (Iran) with a clear path to a nuclear weapon and $150 billion
to support its terror activities; a blunder that is so bad it may very well become an enabler for nuclear war.
- Iran's blatant violations of Obama's "deal" (everything from banned
travel to the launch of new medium range missiles) that began within 90
days of the deal's enactment.
- Tension with our Arab gulf allies over the Iran deal with the strong likelihood that the deal will precipitate a nuclear arms race in the most unstable region of the world.
- The acquiescence to a failed state in Yemen after claiming the
country was an example of Obama's success in dealing with Islamic
- The destabilization of Iraq caused by a half-hearted effort to achieve a status of forces agreement, thereby abandoning the country to
Iran and Islamist terror groups.
- The abandonment of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
- The growth of Iran as a regional hegemon in the Middle East.
- The spread of Islamism and related terror groups in North and Sub-Saharan Africa
- Tension with Egypt, because this president championed the virulently Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to control the country
- The absolute refusal to name Islamists as the primary driver for worldwide terror. In fact, an absolute refusal to connect Islam and terror in any meaningful way.
- A consistent attempt to minimize the strategic impact of acts of Islamic terror. Even some Democrats now suggest that “at times he [Obama] was patronizing, at other times he seemed annoyed and almost dismissive” when asked about the subject.
- A growing intelligence scandal (now under investigation) in which CIA and DIA reports on Islamic terrorism and ISIS were softened to make the threat look less severe, with a clear implication that such softening was done at the behest of political operatives within the administration.
- The continuing and grossly dishonest effort to conflate "homegrown"
extremist groups (e.g., neo-Nazis or the KKK) with worldwide Islamic
terror groups like al Qaeda or ISIS.
- The swap of a known army deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, for five
imprisoned senior Taliban operatives while allowing four U.S nationals
to be unjustly imprisoned in Iran with no tangible progress in getting
them released, and no attempt to tie their release to the Iran nuclear
- The purposeful demonization of Israel, our only democratic ally in
the Middle East, through subtle innuendo and even worse, borderline
anti-Semitic rhetoric from Obama and his spokespeople.
- The continuing (albeit futile) coersion of Israel to acquiesce to a "two State solution" when one side (the palestinians) demands the
destruction of the other (Israel).
- The rise of the "JV team"—ISIS, and as a consequence, insight into
this president's complete lack of understanding of the threat of
Islamist groups in the region and outside it.
- The utter lack of any effective strategy against the Islamic State
(ISIS) including the tacit acquiescense to murder, beheadings, stoning, and other barbaric acts.
- The minimization of the Islamic terrorist threat (e.g., ISIS is "contained" or al Qaeda is "on the run") followed almost immediately by terrorist acts (e.g., the Paris attacks or the Benghazi attacks) that belie such dishonest, politically motivated claims.
- The greatest flow of Muslim "migrants" from war-torn Middle Eastern countries into the EU in history, occurring as a consequence of the
instability in the Middle East (in no small part
due to the poor decisions by this president). Elements in this migration may very well be a quiet strategy to seed Europe with even more Islamists who pose as immigrants.
It is true that some failures noted above would have happened
even if Barack Obama were not president. But it is equally true that
this president has made decisions that have exacerbated many of the
events noted and/or has responded to each of these events weakly,
ineffectively, or both. As a consequence of his feckless foreign policy
overall, the United States projects weakness that opens the door to
worrisome actions by Russia, China, Iran, radical Islamist groups, and other adversaries.
In the first two sections of this seven year assessment of Barack Obama's
presidency, I discussed both domestic and foreign policy. Now it's time
to provide a general assessment, taking it all into account.
competent people, even those without significant executive experience, learn on the job, adjusting their decisions and
behavior going forward based on earlier results and an honest personal appraisal of their decisions and actions. Barack Obama came into
office with little executive experience, and it appears, little inclination to
learn on the job. He has spent almost 84 months as president, but from an
experiential point of view, it appears that he has had one month of
experience repeated 84 times.
Obama is a man whose
ideology might be acceptable were he a run-of-the-mill activist or a
college professor. But the President of the United States must sometimes
set aside ideology to do what is in the best interests of the country
he leads. Obama has refused to do so, and as a result, he has jettisoned
pragmatism, abandoned any attempt to take counsel from or even consider the
ideas of his political opposition, and pin-balled from failed policy to
failed policy. He has surrounded himself with a Team of 2s
, people of like-minded ideology who reinforce, rather than redirect the many, many bad decisions that have emanated from his office.
administration and the man who leads it have done significant damage to
our country. It's too early to determine whether the damage can be
undone, but it's safe to say that Barack Obama and his administration
have eroded our trust in the honesty, competence, and ethics of those
who lead us.
Back in late September, 2015, Noah Rothman
promise was to be a transformative figure, his supporters averred. He
would reverse a suspiciously colonialist Bush-era foreign policy,
deliver the country into a post-racial period, and restore America’s
faith in the power of collectivism and the righteous efficacy of
government. As the winter of the Obama presidency approaches, it seems
beyond dispute that this presidency has robbed Americans of what
remaining faith they had in the value of collective action. The power of
massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best,
dubious. The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when
the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands. That’s dangerous.
The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith
in the virtue of self-governance. It is this kind of contempt for public
institutions that leads republics to ruin.
I have never felt less confident in the federal government. Its
incompetence and intrusiveness is bolstered by duplicitous politicians
and self-aggrandizing bureaucrats (from both parties) who protect its
continual spread with excuses and lies. Barack Obama sits at the tip of
the big intrusive government (BIG) pyramid. It has been his goal to
grow government. In so doing, he has increased dependency, stifled
economic growth, and weakened the United States around the world. Early
in his presidency, he promised to make our country respected throughout
the world. Instead, he and his Team of 2s have made us a laughingstock.
Obama is the worst president in my lifetime and arguably, the worst
president in the history of the United States. A winning smile, an
ability to read a teleprompter with natural intonation, and the obvious
fact that Obama is the first African American president, do absolutely
nothing to change my assessment of the man, his lack of accomplishment,
or the potentially irreparable damage he has done.
there any good that can come out of Barack Obama's presidency? It's hard
to say. Some good can be derived from the Obama era if the American
people learn from it. But what, exactly, is there to learn?
of us who were on the record opposing Barack Obama in 2008 had a long
list of solid reasons for doing so. Caught up in what can only be called
mass hysteria, few voters listened. But I suspect that the majority of those
who opposed Obama's election never in their wildest dreams believed
that a president could do so much damage on both the domestic and
foreign policy fronts in the relatively short span of seven years.
what we can learn: Ideologically driven decision making, coupled with
lack of executive experience, coupled with no skill in team building
(the Team of 2s), coupled with an inability to adapt and change course,
coupled with a hyper-partisan world view that rejects meaningful
negotiation and demonizes opponents, all coupled with a copious dose of
hubris—leads to ruin.
If the voting public learns that
lesson as a result of the Obama presidency, some good will come out of
it. If they vote accordingly in 2016, more good will come out of it. But
if American voters refuse to learn the lessons that this president has
inadvertently taught us all, choosing instead to continue Obama's failed
domestic and foreign policies under a political party that allowed him to do great damage, our country will reach a point of no
recovery and will experience a long and often painful decline. Time